الثلاثاء، 16 نوفمبر 2010

Planning for Math Success

Being successful in math takes effort. Unfortunately, many students miss a few classes and homework assignments then come test time they are unprepared and anxious. To thrive in mathematics you need to decide to be successful, overcome your barriers and commit to putting in the required effort.
The first obstacle to overcome is dealing with anxieties you may have about math. After you have addressed your apprehension you can formulate a plan for your success.
Symptoms of Math Anxiety
If you are apprehensive about math, get nervous before tests, feel helpless or you think there is no way for you to be successful in math, you likely have some level of math anxiety. Here are a few sure signs:

  • Panic which includes pre-test jitters, paralysis of thought a well as sweaty palms, nausea and heart palpitations.

  • Paranoia or the feeling that you are the only one who isn’t getting it or that someone will figure out you have been faking it and now everyone will find out you do not know anything.

  • Passive Behavior or you simply give up. You think you do not have the brain for math and do not try, thinking it is impossible for you to ever get it.

  • Lack of Confidence in your skills or abilities no matter how much you study or how well you have been doing.

  • What to do before you Take a New Math Class
    Once you face your math anxieties you can learn to overcome them. Here are some things you can do before you enroll to prepare for success:

  • Discover your Learning Style; everyone learns differently, some like to read or see pictures, others learn from class instruction or are audio learners and some like to work with their hands or within a group. Through a few experiments you can understand how you learn best. For example, some students record their instructors’ voice since they are audio learners, some benefit from writing their problems out with words instead of numbers if they learn by text.

  • Refresh your Math Skills; If you are advancing to a new level or you have been out of school for years or even just a summer, it is a good idea to update your math skills. If it has been years you may want to consider a refresher course or taking a placement test to see where you are at. If it has been just a summer you may benefit from trying some of your old assignments to see if you still remember everything.

  • Find Resources; Contact your school to find out if they have a math lab, tutors or other resources available.

  • Find an Instructor you Like; If possible meet with potential instructors ahead of time to find the one that best suites your learning style.

  • Schedule Well; Schedule your class at a time of day when you are most alert and optimistic. If you are not a morning person, do not schedule your class first thing in the morning. If you get drowsy after lunch avoid taking math at this time. It may also be a good idea to schedule some free time right after class so you can do your homework while the topic is still fresh. Additionally, do not over schedule, taking a full load or more of hard classes while taking a math class may be overwhelming, moreover some do better going to class everyday as opposed to two or three class sessions per week.

  • Change your Mindset; Admit your apprehension and realize that you can succeed; it just may be in your own way at our own pace. Employ habits to conquer and curtail problems with procrastination, lack of self confidence or anxiety.

  • How to Succeed in Class
    With proper preparation, many familiar stumbling blocks can be removed but it is important to maintain your optimism and stay current.

  • Attend All Classes; Missing one class can cause problems if a new concept is introduced. Make a point of attending all classes. If you must miss a class, see if you can attend another session or get help with the new topic from your tutor before the next class session.

  • Do All Assignments; Math is like a second language and must be practiced. So even though you may think you get a topic in class, make sure you do your homework to reinforce what you have learned or to find the areas you need to work on.

  • Do not take Short Cuts; It is important to completely work out every step of a problem, just one simple miscalculation can cause the answer to be incorrect. Additionally, if you get an answer wrong, do not make assumptions but rework the entire problem.

  • Ask Questions; The teacher is there to help you learn, so if something is unclear ask questions. Do not worry about feeling slow; there may be others in the class who are nervous about asking the same question.

  • Be Alert; You will not learn a thing if you sleep through class or are distracted. Be attentive and actively taking notes so that you are engaged for the entire class.

  • Do not Procrastinate; Trying to cram several chapters into one night is always a bad idea. Also doing your homework late at night, when you are tired, can be difficult. Tackle your homework right away so you are worry free before class.

  • Preparing for Tests
    Test time is especially difficult for many people; they may freeze up and stare at the page not recognizing a thing. Successful test taking comes from preparation and confidence.

  • Prepare Early; If all assignments are done correctly and you pay attention in every class you are already beginning the test preparation process. The day before test day is not the day to learn new concepts or play catch up.

  • Practice; Through your instruction, text book, software or online source you can find sample tests, so practice. Simulate test conditions and time yourself, if you are successful in a simulated test, you will gain confidence for the real thing.

  • Know your professor; Try to get a copy of one of your professors’ old exams to see what kind of questions they may ask or talk with someone who has successfully passed the class before.

  • Form a Study Group; If you are the type that learns well from others or by teaching others, forming a study group is a good idea. Try to find students that are as dedicated as you are and are willing to make the commitment to be successful.

  • During the Exam
    If you are prepared and your nerves are settled you can plan your strategy on how you want to complete the test.

  • Read through the exam; Look through the whole exam so you can decide how best to divide your time.

  • Read instructions; If you do not understand what is being asked of you, how can you deliver? Make sure you know what results the questions are asking for.

  • Check your Writing; If you are using scratch paper or are rewriting the problem, take extra care to make sure you rewrite it correctly.

  • Write Down all Steps; Do not rush; methodically and clearly write down every step. Some teachers will even give partial credit if your answer is incorrect but the process is correct.

  • Check your Math; Even if you are using a calculator recheck your math, in case you have entered a wrong number or have made a simple calculation error.

  • Do not Waste Time; If you come across an especially difficult problem or one that confuses you, move on. Do not use up the time needed to solve the problems you understand or come back to it later.

  • Passing math takes work. But once you make the decision to be successful and develop a plan to get the results you want and follow that plan, failure is impossible.

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